PURPOSE - The purpose of this work was to investigate the potential of discrete Gaussian edge feathering of the higher energy electron fields for improving abutment dosimetry in the planning volume when using an electron multileaf collimator (eMLC) to deliver segmented-field electron conformal therapy (ECT).
METHODS - A discrete (five-step) Gaussian edge spread function was used to match dose penumbras of differing beam energies (6-20 MeV) at a specified depth in a water phantom. Software was developed to define the leaf eMLC positions of an eMLC that most closely fit each electron field shape. The effect of 1D edge feathering of the higher energy field on dose homogeneity was computed and measured for segmented-field ECT treatment plans for three 2D PTVs in a water phantom, i.e., depth from the water surface to the distal PTV surface varied as a function of the x-axis (parallel to leaf motion) and remained constant along the y-axis (perpendicular to leaf motion). Additionally, the effect of 2D edge feathering was computed and measured for one radially symmetric, 3D PTV in a water phantom, i.e., depth from the water surface to the distal PTV surface varied as a function of both axes. For the 3D PTV, the feathering scheme was evaluated for 0.1-1.0-cm leaf widths. Dose calculations were performed using the pencil beam dose algorithm in the Pinnacle(3) treatment planning system. Dose verification measurements were made using a prototype eMLC (1-cm leaf width).
RESULTS - 1D discrete Gaussian edge feathering reduced the standard deviation of dose in the 2D PTVs by 34, 34, and 39%. In the 3D PTV, the broad leaf width (1 cm) of the eMLC hindered the 2D application of the feathering solution to the 3D PTV, and the standard deviation of dose increased by 10%. However, 2D discrete Gaussian edge feathering with simulated eMLC leaf widths of 0.1-0.5 cm reduced the standard deviation of dose in the 3D PTV by 33-28%, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS - A five-step discrete Gaussian edge spread function applied in 2D improves the abutment dosimetry but requires an eMLC leaf resolution better than 1 cm.